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NOW CLOSED Tell Chedds, the new kids’ snacking cheese brand from Cathedral City, your top tips for lunchboxes and you could win a Chedds hamper worth £100(52 Posts)
We've been asked by Chedds, the new kids' snacking cheese brand from Cathedral City (previously reviewed by MNers), to find out your best tips for packing a healthy lunchbox for your children.
What do you like to include and what do your children enjoy finding in their lunchbox? How do you keep the food cool till lunchtime and not get everything squashed? Do you manage to strike a balance between fun and nutritious? If so, how?
Please let us know your thoughts on this thread.
Your tips will be used on the Chedds pages on Mumsnet and everyone who adds a comment will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a Chedds hamper, worth £100 (UK winners only).
Thanks and good luck with the prize draw
Varying carbs twixt sandwiches, pasta, rice salad, cheese scones,cold home-made pizza or wraps containing cheese/nuts/ham etc....
Fruit juice or water to drink
fruit and/or Innocent Squeezies for DS and salad and baby corns for DD (as well as same fruit options for DS). Sometimes small jellies in tubs made with fruit juice and containing fruit - lime jelly with pineapple chunks and juice is a favourite one)
Yoghurts in tubes as easy to use (and if frozen provide just the right level of cooling until lunchtime!)
the odd treat once a week or so (maybe popcorn or a salt-free packet of crips) because they are children and don't see why in the context of a balanced diet, they shouldn't be allowed the odd treat.
Frozen squeezy yoghurts are great for keeping kids lunchboxes cool.
Sandwiches cut out with various shaped cutters are always a good way to get the kids to eat their sandwich.
DS(5) likes to discuss the contents of his lunch box (which is partioned), and I try to buy what he asks for (within reason, but its usually fruit he asks for). Usually he wants cheese or philly with marmite, and his favoured bread is finger rolls, but we use wholegrain wraps and bread as variety.
I chuck in cherry tomatos (or tomberries if he's lucky), carrot, grapes, an apple or pear plus a squeezy yogurt. It all goes in an insulated bag with a gel cool pack.
Sometimes he gets a jelly/bag of mini party rings/pack of salt n shake crisps (minus salt packet and klippit'd shut), but he's more likely to ask for plums. Which sounds smug - sorry.
DD has been doing an activity week for the last fortnight. she has to take a packed lunch and we have found a compartmentalised box to be best for this.
Mini sausage or cheese and onion rolls, popcorn, tongue rolls [vom], cherries or raspberries and a packet of crisps have been the things put in.
I make some squash or juice and freeze it. That keeps the contents of the box fit for consumption by keeping it cool.
Don't give younger children pots of yoghurt unless you have a vocation for cleaning the inside of lunch bags
using a pouch/carton of drink sold with tiny straws that are not attached? sticky tape the straw to the inside lid of the lunch box - i also do this with yoghurt spoons
in hot weather, freeze drinks - they will be defrosted by lunchtime and will help keep the rest of the food cool
lining the lunch box with a sheet of kitchen roll can be used as a napkin (we can hope ) but will also help mop up any left over yoghurt/leaky drinks
Frozen squeeze yoghurts to keep things cool.
Carrot sticks with a mini hummus pot is the weird favourite
Pineapple crisps or banana crisps
Just water for ours
Popcorn as a treat
Freeze fresh juice with berries inside, so when the juice defrosts and keeps lunch cool, the berries emerge and float on the juice by lunch time. Keep the straw-spoons from mcflurrys and put them in to drink the juice and fish out the berries.
Grow your own veg as it often turns out smaller than shop bought, we have loads of tiny carrots and miniature cucumbers in our garden, but radishes and salad leaves are easy to grow, and if kids help grow them they see the wastefulness of not eating it!
There are usually fruit trees around, and kids love the adventure of being put on an adult's shoulders to pick a couple of ripe plums, a handful of cherries or brambles etc.
Small items (cubes of chesse, sliced ham, cocktail sausages, little pots of fromage frais) will go down a lot better than one large sandwich.
Cold rice mixed with vegetables in little pots.
Fruit skewers (with mini marshmallows if you allow it, I do!)
Soup in a flask if the weather is cold and dull. It doesn't need to be boiling, warm will be fine.
Toasted pitta bread cut into strips is delicious served with pesto or hummous, it's just as nice cold as hot.
Sandwiches or wraps (with cheese and salad)
Mini pizzas (home made)
fruit salad (berries, apple, grapes)
Baby bel or cubes of cheese
Mini scones, ham and cheese mini sandwiches, homemade flapjacks, raisins, grapes, cubes of cheese, breadsticks, carrot sticks or apple with humous, small pots of fromage frais
Our usual pack-up picnic food (DS is not at school yet) is pretty much what I'd pack him up in a lunch box anyway.
He loves what he calls egg balls - quorn picnic eggs. Good protein without processed meat. Pieces of cheese (since he's a giant mouse really). Yogurts, the squeezy ones or fromage frais. Little pot (I love lock&locks) of low-acid fruit such as blueberries. Sadly he can't have juice or high acid fruit because of being born with malformed tooth enamel. Cheese sandwiches in tiny squares. Pitta pieces with houmous. Another little pot of cucumber and carrot sticks.
We have some really tiny freezer blocks (2x3") which work really well to keep a bag cool: if it's a family day out then we use a huge one! Lock&Lock also do biggish boxes with three smaller open boxes inside: very useful for keeping squashables apart (see www.lakeland.co.uk/14917/Lock-and-Lock-Divided-34l-container;jsessionid=EFDE2BEFC9CE3083C69EC1AF29510571.app1 )
woops sorry was going to press preview and got post instead that was the wrong L&L I should have said this one
To keep food cool: Freeze the bottle of water/squash the night before and put it inside. As the juice melts it will be cold and refreshing but will also keep the food cool. I also used to draw faces on the banana (unpealed), it encouraged him to eat it.
I freeze a tube yoghurt or the drink to keep it cool. My ds gets suspicious at anything other than a white roll with eitehr ham or cheese, so that's as varied as it gets. He lives life on the edge my boy.
Always add in some carrot or cucumber strips, piece of fruit and a bit of flapjack/muffin as a treat.
Not all kids like sandwiches and not all Mums have bread in the house all the time (or is it just me?)so think outside the (lunch) box and be creative.
When I get up in the morning and make the packed lunch, I open the fridge, freezer and cupboards scanning them for suitable items. Protein, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and maybe even a treat item.
When making muffins (sweet or savory), mini silicone cases are great for making one or two extra ones to freeze for lunches. Also make mini pies or quiches, yorkshire puddings or toad in the hole or fritters and freeze in zip lock bags ready for the 'what have I got for a packed lunch today?' moment. Other things to have in the freezer are samosas, spring rolls, pakoras, and scotch eggs.
I go for a packed lunch that has lots of little things , usually finger food, in the hope that the child will get a balanced meal even if he doesn't finish it all. Use a small lunchbox and pack it all in closely so things don't rattle about in transit. Baby food storage containers are great for little things, dips and yoghurt or stewed fruit.
Cheese - in sandwhiches or chunks or even cheese and pineapple on a stick
Eggs - boiled, omelette, fancy shapes or plain
Seafood sticks or prawns, with a dip
Smoked mackerel, fish fingers or fish cakes
Nuts, whole or nut butters
Pickles - gherkins, pickled onions, olives, peppers etc, all count towards 5 a day and great store cupboard standbys
Crudites - peppers in different colours, carrots, baby corn, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, courgettes.
Lightly cooked vegetables - broccoli, beans, peas, carrots - keep a bit aside after preparing tea.
Cherry tomatoes - go for some yellow ones for a change
Couscous - make it colourful with confetti vegetables, sultanas and tried apricots
Pasta - all different shapes and sizes
Potato wedges - these can be nice cold too.
Pancakes - can be frozen
Any kind of breads, crumpets, tortilla wraps, rolls, pita
Frozen berries in a pot of natural yoghurt
Pineapple - tinned is a great store cupboard standby
Stewed fruit in a little container
Of course, you could always do a ham or chocolate spread sandwich...
I like lots of different little things. e.g. A small bit of cheese, a slice of ham rolled up with soft cheese, a little bit of chicken, half a hard boiled egg, a tiny pot of hummus, a couple of mini bread sticks, a couple of carrot/cucumber/celery sticks, a cherry tomato.
Then a few grapes, segments of satsuma or apple etc.
Then some days a baby chocolate e.g. Hero type
There are no prizes for the most exotic and varied lunchbox, so don't worry about giving the same few things cycled round and round if you know that's what your children will enjoy and eat plenty of.
Use a plastic box instead of a sandwich bag to stop food getting crushed, and to save money and waste.
I have very small ice packs for in the lunchboxes, just tiny foil pouch things.
I buy boxes of celebrations/heroes/roses that kind of thing when they are on offer and add a couple to the lunchbox as a "pudding".
I started this as I found I was so weak - willed in the morning () that I was adding bars of chocolate/penguin/bars from a multipack (not all at the same time I hasten to add!) and wanted to cut down what they took. Now they enjoy picking out a couple from the box, and I get to eat all the hazlenut-type ones as no-one else likes them!!
I give them a balanced lunchbox filled with things I know they eat. I keep experimenting for at home as I don't want them going hungry. I always include a small cheese portion to eat last as the dentist recommended it as a way to help protect their teeth (there is no way they will brush at school).
My daughter doesn't have school packed lunches so only gets a packed lunch for trips and days out with school or other groups. And she loves them!
Next week she has three days of drama summer school and she has to take a packed lunch each day. Her top choices for next week are:
Day 1: cold pasta salad with chorizo, chicken and peppers in a mayonaisse sauce; pot of melon; yogurt; chocolate chip cookie; smoothie/juice
Day 2: chicken and pesto wraps with vegetable sticks; pack of dried fruit; yogurt; flapjack; smoothie/juice
Day 3: ham and cheese sandwiches with a pot salad and hummous; melon and pineapple; yogurt; bun or cake; smoothie/juice.
The pasta is kept cool in an insulated bento style box.
Wraps I wrap in foil to keep them together and make them less messy to eat later.
Sandwiches and wraps go in a plastic container to stop them getting squished.
I also put in a frozen bottle of water in the bag which gradually defrosts during the morning, keeping the sandiches or whatever cool in the meantime.
My boys' school are quite strict about lunch box contents (rightly so) so I have to be creative to get variety in there and still make the lunches appealing.
Wraps always go down well - wraps with salad or grated carrot in addition to the main filling bulk them out and make them more satisfying and less bland to eat. Cheese and pickle, ham and cheese, sliced boiled egg and salad, houmous and grated carrot, cream cheese and cucumber - these are all popular.
Other variations on the bread theme include bagels - cold pizza bagels are a hit - mini pittas, seeded rolls, baguettes
I find very wet fillings like tuna mayo and egg mayo (which my children love generally) don't work well in packed lunches because by the time the children come to eat it the whole thing has seeped through the bread and the overall effect is soggy and nasty.
Snacking cheese products like babybel etc (we haven't tried Chedds yet!) and applewood smoked cheddar sticks are very popular - I think the children like the fact that it's a little individually wrapped portion and get strangely excited about having that rather than a cube of cheese cut by me.
I steer clear of things like Dairylea Lunchables etc because in my experience they are meanly portioned, poor quality and not worth the money.
I find Frubes very useful - not only because you don't need a spoon and they are (almost) mess-free, but also because I can freeze them - if I pop a frozen Frube in at the last minute, it usually melts in time for lunch but keeps the rest of the lunch cool. Nothing worse than sweaty cheese and curling ham in a lunch box.
Individually packed drinks (juice boxes etc) are very popular with the children and although I feel that they are less economical than just pouring a drink into a water bottle, sometimes they are worth it - you don't end up with a smelly bottle to clean out and they don't tend to leak and ruin the entire lunch.
Fruit is great - my two love all fruit and again, if I chop up a few different fruits and put them in little individual pots, they seem to delight the boys more and will definitely get eaten. To avoid fruit browning I put a bit of lemon juice on it when I pack it. Ditto little pots of grapes/strawberries/raisins - very well received.
Treats - home-made flapjacks or little cup cakes or cookies always go down well. I try not to give anything covered in chocolate, partly because it isn't necessary for a school lunch, partly because it guarantees a filthy jumper and partly because it melts and makes a horrible mess which the child then has to deal with.
Paramount in planning lunches in my opinion is the fact that the child will want to scoff it down in double-quick time and get back out to play. They don't want to sit there for half an hour assembling their own fajitas or waiting for soup to cool down. This is another reason why individually wrapped portions of things like cheese and fruit are a good idea. Less waste, less time and more likely to be eaten!
My DDs mostly have school dinners, but when they do have packed lunches they usually have...
A sandwich or a wrap. Don't do anything special with these. Usually it's cheese, ham, tuna, marmots. Cheese and apple is a favourite.
Salad pot. Mostly contains tomatoes and cucumber, but will contain whatever I have got around. Carrot is a favourite.
Crisps. I usually buy Tesco value crisps because they are smaller packs (only 18g) so they get less crisps.
A desert item. This may be fruit or it could be a yoghurt.
If they don't have crisps then they will get a treaty item such as a bit of cake, a brioche, chocolate coin and so on.
Food is stored in mini pots within a normal lunch bag. I don't normally bother with ice packs - never seem to need them, and drink is water.
My DCs choose from:
sandwich loaf slices (bakery or bread machine)
sometimes pancakes on the rare occasions we have any leftover!
and a variety of fillings/dips/sauces
cheddar cheese slices usually from a big block
smoked salmon (not very often!)
chicken mayo (leftover from roast)
these either on own or with sweetcorn/cucumber/shredded lettuce
leftover fish fingers (sometimes specially made for lunchbox as they taste better fresh)
leftover roast veggies
plain or garlic philly type cheese
tomato pasta sauce
salsa made with whatever I have to hand/shop bought
Cucumber sticks (these two usually combined with pitta and hummous to dip)
if we have them they will have leftover samosas, pakoras, pizza slices
and they do like the mini party chicken satays from Sainsbos which I cook and cool in the morning so are fresh.
a piece of fruit cut up: apples, plums, nectarines, melon, grapes are faves
but not banana!
as they only eat a fraction of it if I leave the stones/core in!
a sweet treat type of thing, if we have any, so not always
muffin - usually homemade
mini choc eclairs (the frozen ones)
cake - homemade but jamaican ginger is popular and soreen malt loaf
bar/fruit winder/fruit flakes
small choc bar/celebrations type of thing
and a frube or choob type of dairy thing which I freeze in the summer to keep everything cool.
Drink - usually capri sun, always have a water bottle
I just keep these in the fridge now so are cold when I put them in - after several occasions when had frozen them and they hadn't defrosted enough to drink!
Sometimes they have hot pasta or soup in a food flask - I only half fill it as that is more than enough for them.
They like to have everything in a compartmentalised box or small tupperware boxes in an insulated lunchbag.
Youngest likes to assemble her own sandwiches out of marmite and ricecakes but think this phase is coming to an end!
This all looks pretty good written down - I've impressed myself!
Usually it is the same thing for a while though and is only whatever I have to hand, apart from tuna, capri sun, frubes and the bars which I do buy for lunchboxes.
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